The United States Government is taking the lead role when it comes to copyright policies and enforcement around the globe.
Through diplomatic pressure and positive reinforcement, it tries to steer foreign governments in the right direction.
Assistance is also provided in a more hands-on form. For example, US delegations regularly host workshops for foreign enforcement authorities, to show them how to fight piracy. In addition to knowledge, concrete tools are provided as well.
U.S. Embassy Donates Laptops
While these types of assistance generally don’t reach the headlines, a gesture from the U.S. embassy in Nigeria caught our eye this week.
The U.S. Embassy has donated 50 laptops and other ‘gadgets’ to the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). The equipment was donated by U.S. representative James Jewett, to aid the local fight against piracy.
The Copyright Commission is pleased with the gift. Director-General John Asie said that these new tools will be used to assist the online monitoring department in tracking down online piracy activity.
“The copyright inspectors, especially the online inspectors, will now track and trace copyright infringement through the deployment of these tools,” Asie said.
“We must be able to trace and match [pirates] with technology since copyright infringement occurs mostly online. Not only for the good of the creative industry of the country, but to also provide the right ambience, a safe place for all creative works.”
The comments indirectly suggest that there was a shortage of laptops at the Nigerian Government. With the new gear and the other ‘gadgets,’ this problem will be tackled. And, according to local media, the Commission also promises to do more.
Previously, the government body estimated that Nigeria lost over $1 billion annually to movie piracy alone, so there is plenty of work still to be done.
New Copyright bill
The generous gift will challenge the Nigerian Copyright Commission to do more to protect the creative sector, Asie commented. This includes signing a new copyright bill into law, which is expected to happen later this year.
Just a few months ago, several US copyright holders urged Nigeria to make sure that the new bill requires ISPs to take action against persistent pirates, limits private copying exceptions, while extending the copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years.
The comments make it clear that copyright enforcement remains a hot topic in Nigeria. Whether the new laptops will result in any radical enforcement actions remains a question, of course. In any case, it won’t be as radical as the proposal of a local artist to simply amputate the fingers of persistent pirates.